By Mary Ahler, Becketwood Member
I was thinking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her collars when a Minnesota thought came to mind.
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a slight figure who wore collars to give a feminine spin to the historic judicial black robes. The robe had been designed for a man to show his shirt collar and tie. Adding a fancy collar was RBG’s way of making it more fitting for a woman.
Minnesota also had a Supreme Court Justice who had her way of feminizing her judicial robes. Esther Tomljanovich was an Associate Justice in the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1990 to 1998. Like justice Ginsburg she was a slight woman with a very stylish bent. Her way of making her feminine mark on the court was in her very colorful shoes. I met her one day while working at William Mitchell College of Law in the Dean’s Office. She was dressed in a bright summery outfit of orange and yellow with very stylish orange high heel shoes. I commented on it and she said the only way she could put up with the black robes and masculine demeanor of the Court was to wear bright colored shoes. And because of her slight stature, they were always very high heels.
Every year at Easter time the Saint Paul Pioneer Press holds an Easter Peeps Contest. People submit pictures or dioramas of those sugary colorful marshmallow peeps dressed, posed and grouped in creative settings. I recall one year, one of the winning entries was entitled “The Minnesota Supreme Court.” It was seven yellow Easter Peeps dressed in black judicial robes and of course, one of them had bright pink shoes.
Justice Ginsberg and Justice Tomljanovich have shown us that women can be feminine, stylish and fashionable while achieving some of the highest positions in our land. Congratulations Ruth and Esther – and many thanks.